New World Christianity Is Getting Old

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American History.  The New World.  Explorers.  Columbus.  Coronado.  Vespucci.  Pioneers.  Industrial Revolution.  Imperialism.  War.  Civil Rights.

At the outset, this is not a bash America rant.  I’m grateful that I was born in the U.S.  The freedoms, the opportunities, the resources, etc.  While “American Exceptionalism” has brought many good things into the world, we must also ask:  at what cost?  Some of the European ideologies followed the explorers across the Atlantic and set the stage for a not so glamorous history.

  • Curse of Ham (Genesis 9:20-27). This was the misconceived and hellborn belief traced back to Noah’s son Ham and his indiscretions.  His cursed descendants through Canaan became the origin of black skinned people and used as a justification for slavery.  This still rips our nation apart today and unfortunately, even the Church.
  • Social Darwinism was coined by Herbert Spencer, concocting the idea of “survival of the fittest.”  As in nature, the strongest, most clever, and the healthiest wins out.  This would become a justification for war, racism, and American imperialism.
  • “God Bless America” has its roots in the belief that God ordained the birth of America and it would become the New Jerusalem, the source of hope for the nations.  Europeans migrated to the “New” World  to find religious freedom and new opportunities; too often at others’ expense.  ***
  • Manifest Destiny was the belief that the U.S. had the responsibility to tame the frontier, to expand westward and fulfill it’s sovereign purpose.  Resources, land, gold, more prospects were held back by First Nations Tribes.  They used God to justify greed, robbery, murder, and superiority.  Of course, they needed to “civilize” and christianize the heathens, the quarantine them in reservations.
  • “Our Way of Life” is something we live and die for.  Prosperity, liberty, truth, justice.  “Why wouldn’t the rest of the world like to become like us?  We’re the best.  No one can compete with us.  We’re the standard and envy of the nations.”

How has this crept into the Church?

“America was founded on Judeo-Christian Principles”
Whose definition?  From what time period?  Both faiths have long, colorful histories.  The Slaughter of Muslims?  The burning of Jews in synagogues?  The Crusades?  The Inquistition?  “Our legal system was based on the 10 Commandments.”  Umm, which ones?  I can see maybe 3?  Stop right now:  can we recite the Ten Commandments?  If not, maybe that’s why we’re always demanding they be posted on plaques in government buildings.  Just be careful so you don’t get caught by surprise like Congressman Lynn Westmoreland on the Colbert Report.  #googleorYouTubeit Maybe the Kingdom would be better served if we display Christian virtue in our lives, attitudes, and words instead of our decorations, clothing, or alternative media.

“Take a Stand For Righteousness”
Let’s ask ourselves some questions first:  Do I have the moral authority to do that?  Am I in right standing with God Almighty?  “It doesn’t matter because God’s Word has the Authority.”  Problem is, that makes us hypocrites.  The Pharisees placed spiritual burdens on people that they couldn’t live up to themselves and they certainly didn’t help people who were struggling.  They isolated segments of the population, forming caste systems and categorizing untouchables in the name of truth.  They held them responsible for Roman subjugation and the Messiah’s delayed return.

One more way to marginalize people and use them as scapegoats for a troubled nation.  Who is more to blame for America’s plight now?  The “sinners” or the lazy, apathetic, impotent, prayerless, prideful, detached Church?

“We Must Proclaim Truth!”
The Pharisees were also very knowledgeable about Scripture but too often used it as a weapon to beat people into submission and make them cower in fear.  Just wondering, how many LGBT people in America are more than painfully aware of the Church’s stance?  So why do we always have to state it exhaustively?  Perhaps we should move on to other aspects of the Gospel, also containing truth?  There are 32,140 verses in the Bible.  Why do we fixate on 6?

And a couple other things to consider:

  • While it may be truth, the way we communicate and fixate on certain things hides the message behind self-righteousness, pride, and arrogance.  Example:  We might not be homophobic but we can come across as homophobic.  The burden of communicating adequately is on us because we’re the ones fixating on homosexuality and making it an issue.
  • We don’t have to say everything that we know immediately.  I’m not saying we hold out but we do need to be patient.  God works in processes.  Adult doses of chemotherapy can literally burn the insides of a child.  There’s appropriate doses for certain stages.
  • Proclaiming the truth in love isn’t just about motive but also attitude.  Do we disdain the people God loves?
  • Perhaps if we build a relationship with people instead of launching torpedoes from Facebook, then maybe we can discuss things we disagree upon in a civil manner.  #taketimetolisten #walkthroughlifetogether #just an idea

“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love – like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do” (Ephesians 4:15).

  • Is our purpose really to reconcile people to Christ or to change them so they’ll stop making our lives uncomfortable?
  • Are we mature in Christ?  Growing daily in the knowledge of Him and His Word?
  • Do we really love people?  Love.  Do we?
  • Are we like Christ in our presentation?  merciful, patient, kind, gentle, compassionate, respectful, humble, and meek?  Yes, He called out sin, starting with the religious.  But in cases like the woman at the well (John 4) and the woman caught in adultery (John 8) He:  treated them like fellow human beings, threw down His biases or other barriers, and helped them to see why they would want to change and follow Him, not just tell them that they should change (Romans 2:4).  It’s His KINDNESS that leads us to repentance.

“…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Are we presenting Christ or our own pet peeves about society?

“I Love Everyone and So Does God”
We can’t even say this without fixating on people’s sins and listing others with it.  How would someone feel if I said, “God loves you like He loves Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, and Fidel Castro.”  Patronizing much?  If that’s the best we can do, without honing in on people’s failures, maybe we should shut up for awhile and demonstrate it versus botching the presentation with endless disclaimers.  “…do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences” (Ephesians 4:2-3).

“They Need to be Like Us”
“The heathens must be tamed, civilized, educated, an converted.”  We would never admit to it, but that’s what we want.  Leave your lives of sin and join us.  Believe then you can belong.  Then we can be what was destined all along:  a Christian nation.  Only thing is:  who are we?  How many folks in our congregations look at pornography, commit adultery, are drunkards, hold onto bitterness and resentment, are gluttonous, lie, steal, cheat, etc. etc. etc.  We don’t want people to be like us.  That was never the goal:  “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29).

All that to ask:  What did we accomplish yesterday with our rants and social networking protests?

  • Anyone saved?
  • Anyone drawn closer to Christ?
  • Anyone say, “Dang, I want to go to their church”
  • Anyone turn from their life of sin?
  • Anyone say:  “those guys are sooooo loving”

“You may be saying, ‘What terrible people you have been talking about!’ But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things.  And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things.  Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too?  Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin?” (Romans 2:1-4).

***Yes, America has also been generous in disaster relief and foreign aid, sent out the most missionaries, and the military needs to be applauded for their courage and sacrifice.

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